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I want to prevent my new headphones from fraying near the plug.
July 8, 2012 4:17 PM   Subscribe

I want to prevent my new headphones from fraying near the plug. Can you give me tips to prevent this from happening like it always does?

I've headphones headed my way in the mail which I'm hoping will last me a few years. My last pair of headphones frayed near the plug in about a year; hopefully these will last longer.

I'm aware that you can recable headphones which can increase the lifespan of them considerably. But, despite these headphones being low high-end, they're way too cheap to bother spending extra money recabling them.

I came across a post somewhere online where someone said that he adds a few drops of crazy glue near the plugs of his cheap headphones which prevents them from fraying for a long time. Anyone here do this? If so, does it seem to help?

I'm hoping that I'll eventually have the courage to get a soldering iron and teach myself how to attach a custom plug to headphones in the event that they fray near the plug, but I doubt I'd use the soldering iron often and it would perhaps end up being a waste of money. Is soldering a thing that anyone can quite easily do? I'm rather tech-savvy, so I think I'd be fine. But I dunno . . .

Thanks.
posted by GlassHeart to Technology (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
How about some heat shrink tubing or wrap and a Bic lighter?
posted by fixedgear at 4:24 PM on July 8, 2012


I came to suggest heat-shrink tubing, but fixedgear beat me to it.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 4:42 PM on July 8, 2012


Shrink tubing is a great idea. Another solution is to buy a very short extension cable, since the reason the cable goes bad at the end is the bending motion. In this case, the extension cable would take most of the abuse, so over time it will go bad much sooner than the headphones, at which point you can buy another extension cable.
posted by markblasco at 5:01 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Buy a set of headphones designed with a replaceable cable: i.e., with a plug at the earcup end as well as at the business end.

Alternatively, whatever you're doing to fray the cable, stop doing that. I've never had this happen to me, ever, in 30 years of owning headphones, even cheap ones.
posted by kindall at 5:27 PM on July 8, 2012


If these are nice headphones, Ring Audio can repair them if/when they go bad.
posted by scruss at 5:31 PM on July 8, 2012


Yeah, whatever you're doing to the cables. I think this is a function of devices that can fit in your pocket. Try to be really gentle with them. If they came with a bag, use it. I always carry mine coiled in a pocket that won't get jostled.
posted by nevercalm at 5:31 PM on July 8, 2012


You can also double the cable over, near the plug, and then cable tie it to the body of the plug. Stresses from pulling and so on are then less on the join between the plug and the cable. Can look ugly though.

Soldering is a useful skill to have but you need to be ok with screwing up your first few (many for some people) goes and trying again. It is much, much easier to learn if you have someone to teach you, there is something of a knack to it that text or video can't really get across. It's not really a technical skill, it's a working with your hands skill - I've known a couple of brilliant electronic engineers that were pretty mediocre at soldering.
posted by deadwax at 6:13 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Shrink tube covering the joint extends the life of that joint significantly.
If you loop the cord like so and put shrink tube where I'm pinching it, leaving the loops exposed, it'll last even longer, but it does put a big annoying bundle of wires there.
I typically get 3 to 4 months out of even expensive headphones before they die at the connection there. Shrink tube gets me to 6 or 7, and the loops get me past a year.
The other alternative is to find some place that has a good warranty/return policy (Radio Shack is still good for something!) and let them replace your headphones. The ones I find most comfortable and sound good enough are $25 so Radio Shack replaces mine every few months, no questions asked. I could cut the cord in front of them, have them look me up in their computer and they'd give me a new pair.
posted by gally99 at 6:37 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've had headphones fail in a lot of ways, but never this way. So I think you and gally99 must have a usage pattern that's particularly hard on this part of them.

I think markblasco's idea of using a sacrificial 8" extension cable is the best one here. You could still reinforce that with heat shrink tubing, but either way it should take the stress off the real headphone jack, and be cheap enough that it won't be problematic to replace it every so often.
posted by aubilenon at 6:58 PM on July 8, 2012


I've taken to using a small ball of Sugru at the points of cable/plug connection of just about every cable I carry...charging cables, earbuds, etc. Just a small bead, flattened around the connection and smoothed seems to help take the strain off of the cable significantly.
posted by griffey at 7:50 PM on July 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


It breaks at the joint, right? That stress point? My husband recently had a power cord failure, and when he replaced it, another guitarist in the band told him to run the cord back against the power brick (for your instance, this would be the jack), and double back, and tape that loop against the stationary part, with duct tape. It takes the stress off the point that stressed, the re-run part doesn't get as stressed, things last longer.
posted by kellyblah at 7:56 PM on July 8, 2012


griffey: "I've taken to using a small ball of Sugru at the points of cable/plug connection of just about every cable I carry...charging cables, earbuds, etc. Just a small bead, flattened around the connection and smoothed seems to help take the strain off of the cable significantly."

That stuff, though a little expensive, looks brilliant. This will probably be the first thing I'll try.

Thanks.

fixedgear: "How about some heat shrink tubing or wrap and a Bic lighter?"

I think I'll go with the Sugru instead . . . even if it's a lot more expensive. But if the Sugru fails me, I'll eventually get around to trying heat shrink tubing.

Thanks a bunch.

kindall: "Alternatively, whatever you're doing to fray the cable, stop doing that. I've never had this happen to me, ever, in 30 years of owning headphones, even cheap ones."

I'm honestly not doing anything that's causing my headphone cable to take a severe beating. I too have used many headphones -- including cheap ones -- without any fraying occurring. But my last pair of headphones, like the ones I just bought, are Koss which are known for having shitty cables which break easily.

Koss headphones, however, produce great sound for a very cheap price so it's somewhat understandable that their headphone cables don't last.
posted by GlassHeart at 8:45 PM on July 8, 2012


Or take out the little spring from a worn-out ball-point pen and wrap that round the cord where it meets the plug - overlapping a bit onto the plug itself.
posted by runincircles at 1:07 AM on July 9, 2012


Seconding sugru. I think it's worth the cost. Reinforce all my chargers and headphones with it!
posted by manicure12 at 1:26 AM on July 9, 2012


Came to suggest sugru, staying to point out that Koss have lifetime warranty on certain headsets.
posted by Iteki at 2:22 AM on July 9, 2012


I was going to suggest heat shrink, but will just point out that if the headphones have a big 1/4" plug on them, it can be difficult to find heatshrink that will fit over the plug and also shrink down enough to tightly fit around the wire. (This is not as much of an issue with 1/8" plug headphones.)

Typical heatshrink tubing is 3:1 ... meaning that if it starts off at 3/8 of an inch, it will shrink down to 1/8, but no further.

To combat this, sometimes I have wrapped the cord in electrical tape to make it bigger, then put the heat-shrink tubing around that.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:00 AM on July 9, 2012


I have used replug.

This is not a perfect solution. The actual replug frays and breaks eventually, BUT it's usually cheaper than having (nicer) headphones repaired.
posted by furnace.heart at 10:26 AM on July 9, 2012


You guys are fucking awesome.

Thanks thanks thanks!
posted by GlassHeart at 12:17 AM on July 10, 2012


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